Village to bid out speed monitors

Village Council is moving ahead with plans to install traffic cameras in town, while efforts to impose an income tax are taking longer to get under way.

The bid specifications needed for awarding a contract to provide the speed-monitoring service were approved at this week’s council meeting, with the bid to be advertised on a statewide website and, if required, in a local newspaper of general circulation.

The bid package was prepared by Village Solicitor Michelle Simonelli after she spent the past month researching the contract proposals of other communities that have hired firms to bring in and operate speed-monitoring units. Bids will be accepted up to July 12.

Council is intent on pursuing this as an option since the village cannot afford a police department to address the problem of speeding motorists. “If you don’t have police coverage you need something to slow traffic down,” Simonelli said.

Councilwoman Jayne Balmenti said most of the residents she has spoke with favor the idea of using the camera system to keep speeding motorists in check, and Councilman Mark Gordon agreed.

“Anybody who lives on the main drag knows it’s a problem,” he said.

Officials were expecting opposition to the plan, but no one from the general public attended the meeting.

After the vote, council took up the issue of enacting a 1 percent village income tax. A representative from Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA) was supposed to attend the meeting but failed to do so because of miscommunication. Council is considering hiring RITA to administer the income tax collection program.

Village Fiscal Officer Dale Davis recommended the mayor again invite the RITA representative to attend the next council meeting on June 10 to discuss hiring the company. Davis said before council enacts an income tax it must first decide whether it is financially worth doing so, and RITA would perform the analysis to determine how much the tax would generate.

Council also discussed what to do about former village police officer, Jerry Ludt, who was let go in March when they voted to dissolve the one-man police department. The police radio is missing from the office, as is a laptop computer used by Ludt. The computer is on loan from Verizon under a special program, with the village’s only expense being for Internet service.

Mayor Sharon Hebron said she had sent Ludt a certified letter asking he return whatever village property was still has in his possession, and she has also tried to contact him by phone and text message. She has yet to receive any response.

“Is it possible he is using this for his personal us and we’re paying for it,” Councilwoman Marilyn Locke said of the laptop computer.

Simonelli suggested speak with the Columbiana County sheriff to discuss how they should proceed in dealing with Ludt, who lives in Mahoning County, adding they could take legal action if necessary, depending on “how far do you want to go.”